Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories (2012)

A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories (2012) - Directed by Alex Hardcastle, Robert McKillop; Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Jon Hamm, Rosie Cavaliero, Adam Godley, Vicki Pepperdine.

By Kenny Howell

Sometimes a TV show comes along that is so totally its own thing that you can't help but love it.

That is definitely true of A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories, a brilliant series starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm that debuted in 2012 in the UK. Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man) and Hamm (Mad Men) play the same doctor in early 20th century Russia who are stationed in a small town out in the middle of nowhere.

In 1918, we see the younger doctor, obviously played by Radcliffe, try to make his way, right out of medical school, while his older self, played by Hamm, comments on everything. The two even talk to each other. It's a weird conceit, but it works so extremely well here, as Hamm and Radcliffe have great chemistry, bouncing off each other as the doctor tries to figure just what he is doing.

Things take a turn early in the series when we find out that the doctor in his older age is addicted to morphine and being investigated by Russian authorities. That spurs on the younger doctor to get started, and things spin horribly out of control as his addiction gets the best of him.

Did I mention this show is really, really funny? Because it is. Despite the extremely dark material, the Russian revolution and war as the backdrop, gruesome surgeries, A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories finds great humor in it all. Hamm plays more of the straight man, the man looking back on his early years as the younger version makes a mess of nearly everything. Radcliffe is superb, bouncing around the prison that is this remote doctor's office as he desperately wants to escape, partially because it is terrible place to be, and partially because he doesn't really know what he is doing.

A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories had eight episodes over two series, and they are just about perfect. There is room for more, but maybe good things come in small packages. This couldn't get much better.

The first two series of A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ****

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